Ireland is at a point of “unease and apprehension” in the fight against Covid-19, the health service chief has said.
Paul Reid said there is “no certainty” when trying to predict what might happen with the virus and its variants.
But he said the latest data shows the incidence of the virus and case numbers are continuing to decline.
Speaking at the weekly HSE briefing, Mr Reid said there had been a 22% reduction in the total number of cases in the past 14 days.
Some 84% of the cases were confirmed in people under the age of 45, which Mr Reid said demonstrated the continued and strong benefits of the vaccination programme.
The 14-day incident rate in the country remains below 100 per 100,000 population.
A further 304 cases of Covid have been recorded.
On Thursday afternoon, there were 47 people in hospital with the virus, 13 of whom were in ICU.
210 cases of the Delta variant have been identified in Ireland so far.
Earlier, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said international travel would resume on July 19 as planned despite concerns over the Delta variant.
He said he believed Nphet’s advice next week will focus on the planned easing on July 5.
Speaking in Howth, north Dublin, Mr Ryan said: “The 19th July, the vast majority of people who are vaccinated coming in or going out will be able to travel unimpeded.”
He added: “Talking to the airline industry, what we said is we didn’t want to have a stop-start, we wanted to make sure we got things back on a regular step-by-step basis.
“So on 19th July when those Covid certs come into action we will change the rules from essential travel only to allowing all sorts of other travel – that will operate.
“Everyone is dying to travel to visit friends and family and for work and have a holiday and we want to see that back. But we want to see it in a way that’s not stop-start, we get the public health aspect right.”
Mr Ryan said the plan was working so he did not think it should be changed.
“We are part of EU and we have agreed that we are best following EU approach. We will listen to Nphet but there is strength in following a common approach,” he said.
“Doing it in uniform makes sense, it makes it predictable and makes it easy to manage, much better to follow the EU approach.”